Posted 29 August 2011, by Staff, BRIDGES, bridgesusa.org
Environmental justice exists when all people equitably share the environmental risks and benefits of industrial society and have equal access to natural resources, and when the entire community can depend on equitable protection under environmental laws and the right to participate in decision-making.
Memphis ranked 50th out of 72 (72 is the worst) cities in a 2007 Urban Environment Report conducted by the Earth Day Network. This report calculated a city’s rank in seven categories: drinking and surface water, air quality, toxics and waste, quality of life, parks and recreation, human/public health, and global climate change. The legacy of racial and environmental injustice in Memphis has created a community where our poorer citizens and citizens of color bear the burden of environmental contamination, while being denied equal opportunities to enjoy urban green spaces.
Addressing environmental justice in Memphis includes increasing the ecological sustainability of our community, reducing our carbon footprint, and increasing the health of our citizens. Tennessee does not require environmental education to be taught in the classroom. BRIDGES steps into this gap and provides much-needed environmental education for youth and adults. We advance sustainability and environmental justice in personal behavior, civic engagement, and economic choices.
BRIDGES youth understand the connections between racial, economic, and environmental justice. Our goal is to educate and empower youth to create a future where all inhabitants of the Memphis area have access to clean air and water and healthy outdoor spaces, and are free from the toxins that plague urban environments.
Through our experiential education program, BRIDGES is preparing our students to be players in the green economy of the 21st Century. BRIDGES youth are leaders for sustainable living practices, the improvement of environmental conditions, and the protection and care of our natural resources.